Photo voltaic Nonetheless Much less Than 2% Of East Africa’s Electrical energy Combine Regardless of Having Some Of The Highest Technical Potential On The Continent

East Africa has among the highest potential for photo voltaic PV on the African continent. A examine by IRENA places East Africa forward of different areas on the continent with a possible of 220 petawatt-hours (PWh) each year for photo voltaic PV. Southern Africa has the subsequent highest potential, estimated to be round 160 PWh. The evaluation was primarily based on Geographic Data Programs (GIS) information primarily calculated from renewable vitality useful resource maps, out there meteorological information, and different geographic info together with land cowl, land use, and topographical maps.

With a view to provide you with the closest doable estimate of the technical potential of huge scale photo voltaic PV, the examine says among the normal exclusion parameters included:

  • Cities and concrete areas
  • Protected areas
  • Waterbodies and wetlands
  • Sloped areas (slopes better than 45 levels had been excluded)
  • Conventional agricultural lands
  • Forest areas

Different components thought-about in exclusions are prices to combine the renewable vitality sources to the grid and due to this fact, areas which might be additional than 200 km from the closest metropolis, i.e. extraordinarily distant areas that will be related to very excessive transmission prices for big renewable electrical energy programs, had been excluded.

Regardless of all this potential in East Africa, photo voltaic nonetheless contributes lower than 2% of East Africa’s electrical energy combine. Hydro leads the best way at about 54% and hydro’s share remains to be rising considerably, adopted by pure fuel at about 14%, then geothermal at about 12%. Hydropower contributes over 80% of the electrical energy technology combine in Ethiopia and Uganda. Ethiopia will quickly have much more hydro with the phased implementation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam which is able to contribute over 5,000 MW when accomplished. Tanzania can be including about 2,000 MW with the brand new Julius Nyerere Hydropower Station.

East Africa’s Electrical energy Era Combine, redrawn from IRENA’s Renewable Vitality Market Evaluation: Africa and its Areas Report, January 2022

As the main focus shifts to decarbonize world vitality programs, variable renewable vitality sources, comparable to photo voltaic, are poised to play a key function. Might East Africa’s important hydropower vegetation and sources assist drive the adoption of photo voltaic PV? These hydro energy vegetation might assist stability the variable output of photo voltaic by simultaneous ramp-up or reducing hydro energy output in real-time to assist preserve a gentle energy provide to fulfill demand. Nevertheless, a number of obstacles to the adoption of huge scale photo voltaic vegetation have been recognized and would should be overcome. These embody:

  • Low general put in grid capability in most East Africa, which suggests a low saturation for intermittent renewables
  • Transmission and distribution insufficiency — most nations have weak, poorly maintained networks, and restricted footprint of T&D networks, which restrict grid flexibility
  • Restricted financing
  • A number of utilities within the areas are below fiscal stress, due to this fact not thought-about to be creditworthy
  • Regulatory deficiencies

Numerous markets on the continent are additionally characterised by low or no reserve margins. Because of this these nations are due to this fact pressured to implement load-shedding resulting from insufficient electrical energy technology capability. This lack of reserve margins limits the expansion of utility scale photo voltaic PV with out vitality storage. The excessive penetration of hydropower in East Africa might assist mitigate this by pumped storage and different companies.

Let’s hope we begin to see extra massive scale photo voltaic PV initiatives to assist improve the penetration of photo voltaic within the area in addition to including some extra variety to the vitality combine. Local weather change-induced droughts are actually extra frequent, which places a pressure on the grid through the intervals when water ranges are low. Including photo voltaic PV might assist handle essential water sources.


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